Moulana Abdul Aziz Rajouri

Moulana Abdul Aziz was born at Rajdhani, Rajouri. After pursuing religious education for several years, Aziz joined the All Jammu Kashmir Muslim Conference in 1931. He worked hard to make the struggle a success. His dedication and commitment made him an important member of the organisation. He came very close to Chowdhury Ghulam Abbas.

When Muslim Conference was changed into National Conference in 1939, Aziz severely criticised Sheikh Abdullah. According to Aziz, the change was going to affect the interests of Muslims adversely. Sheikh tried his best to persuade Aziz to accept the new development, but Aziz refused and went to Delhi’s Fatehpuri Madrasa to seek religious education in 1940.

 In Delhi he came in contact with Muslim League leaders. Aziz soon became its member and apprised the people of India about the importance of Pakistan. Meanwhile, the Muslim Conference was revived and Aziz attended its annual functions as a delegate.

In 1946, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah launched the Quit Kashmir Movement. The Muslim Conference decided to strengthen the organisation. On the instructions of Chowdhury Abbas, Aziz went to Poonch. He stayed at Tradkhel with a friend, Rai Muhammad Shafi, and started preparing the people of Poonch for Jihad (holy war) against the Dogra rulers. In a short span of time, he was able to prepare sixty volunteers. The volunteers expressed determination to fight more than thousand Dogra soldiers despite lack of proper weapons and ammunition.

Abbas was a pure politician and believed in peaceful methods. He never talked about armed struggle. Moulana Aziz went to Poonch on the instructions of Chowdhury Abbas. Had Abbas changed by now? Was he interested in an armed response to Dogra solders then?  People close to Abbas have ruled out such a possibility. The Moulana, therefore, made such preparations of his own. No evidence whatsoever is available to connect Moulana’s Jihad preparations with Abbas or the Muslim Conference.    

Somehow, the Prime Minister, Ram Chander Kak, came to know about the preparations for Jihad. Aziz was arrested and subjected to inhuman torture. On September 17, 1948, the members of Kashmir Commission visited Jammu jail. Aziz was undergoing treatment in the jail hospital. He was eagerly waiting for the members, but when they left without visiting the hospital, Aziz raised pro-Pakistan slogans.

The Deputy Prime Minister, Ghulam Muhammad Bakshi, who accompanied the members, was embarrassed. The slogans attracted their attention. Bakshi told them it might be a lunatic. However, the members were not satisfied. They walked into the hospital and saw the ailing Aziz. Bakshi’s scornful eyes did not deter Aziz from narrating the woeful tale of the fellow prisoners. “There are more than 300 political prisoners, including two women, languishing in the jail in a miserable condition. They are denied medi-care and proper food. The irony is that they have been forced to live with criminals. The reports from other jails are equally disturbing. Some political prisoners have been lodged in Bahu Fort.”
After a brief pause, Aziz pointed toward Bakshi and said, “These National Conference goons have made our life miserable. They want to crush the popular sentiment. People of Jammu Kashmir want to join Pakistan and that is no sin. They want to rule Kashmir at gun point. Muslims shall never tolerate that.”  

Soon after, Aziz took out a piece of paper from his pocket. Bakshi tried to snatch it, but Aziz managed to hand it over to the steno accompanying the members. The members were surprised to read it. It was a memorandum on behalf of the prisoners.

Aziz’s detention proves that the political prisoners have been suffering in one way or the other since 1947. They were tortured then and they are tortured now. They were denied proper and medi-care then and the same is happening today. Then commissions would visit them and today the International Red Cross (ICRC) visits the jails. The problems of prisoners remained unaddressed then and the hapless souls live in despondency now.    

Nobody knows what happened to Moulana after his release. An elderly person in Rajouri said he was exiled and sent to Pakistan. The Moulana, it is believed did not participate in political activities there. Instead he concentrated on religion and utilised his oratory skills for propagation of Islam. But this contention is not based on reality, it seems. A person who was very close to Chowdhury Abbas, who confronted Sher-e-Kashmir for converting Muslim Conference into National Conference and who prepared an army of sixty persons to fight the Dogra soldiers could not remain aloof from the struggle especially in those eventful years when Muslim Conference was activating its units across the sate to help the Plebiscite administrator.   

(The article is part of my compilation on Unsung heroes of Kashmir I tried my best to get the required information about Moulana but all my efforts went in vain. I appeal through Rising Kashmir for information, photos etc of the Moulana.)
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